The first re-flagging of a foreign chartered fishing vessel shows Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) has an effective system in place to manage the complex requirements of the process, MNZ General Manager Maritime Standards Sharyn Forsyth says.

The Ukrainian vessel FV Mainstream, chartered by Independent Fisheries and previously registered in Dominica, has today been officially registered as a New Zealand vessel.

This brings it under New Zealand labour and health & safety laws. The re-flagging process involved:

 - ensuring the vessel and its safety systems are fully compliant with New Zealand maritime rules and the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992

 - recognising foreign crew qualifications to the New Zealand equivalent certificate – this includes passing an  oral examination to assess competence and knowledge of New Zealand requirements

 - changing legal registration of the vessel from Dominica to New Zealand, which included satisfying the requirements of the Ship Registration Act 1992 that the New Zealand charterer has the ‘whole possession and control of the ship, including the right to appoint its Master and crew’.

Legislation is before Parliament to make it compulsory for all foreign chartered fishing vessels to be re-flagged by 2016.

“MNZ is working closely with all operators to provide guidance and support through the transition to re-flagging, while ensuring that the integrity of New Zealand’s maritime and health and safety standards is maintained,” Mrs Forsyth said.

“The first re-flagging shows the system is already place to allow companies to make New Zealand the flag-state for charter vessels and I expect more re-flagging in future,” she said.

There are now 16 foreign charter fishing vessels operating year-round in New Zealand waters. An additional six vessels operate seasonally.”

Source: MaritimeNZ